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The graphics in Need For Speed II have improved over the last version, Need For Speed SE. One of the more noticeable improvements is the frame-rate and the “live” environment. The ability to hit signs and have them go spinning into the air is a great touch to an already great game. The different cars are all modeled with great detail and look real to life while racing around the track. One of the things Need For Speed is famous for is the ability to lay tire tracks down and combining that with different smoke effects really give a look and feel of watching a car spin out. The tracks that come with this version all represent highly detailed driving environments that look and play great. There are noticeable little details while driving through towns or while racing through mountains that can be seen. The graphical effect of rolling your car while in it, really has never been done as well as Need For Speed II does (you actually feel as though you were in the car). These are some of the different aspects that really make Need For Speed shine in the area of graphics. The system requirements is the only downfall to the graphics in this game. Although you can play the game with lower end systems, to really enjoy the highly detailed cars and terrain you need a pretty decent system to play it on.
Interface & Gameplay:
The interface to Need For Speed II is excellent. All the intro screens are in high resolution and can be navigated while using your mouse. You select different settings by simply clicking on the menu items. I found the videos and car information to be fun to watch and a good way to get a closer look at the real thing. Along with the videos comes statistical information on that car, different pieces of history and performance characteristics. The different options for races, Tournament Mode and Knockout Mode are fun to play. I found the Knockout mode to be the most rewarding. There is not a better feeling in a racing simulation than squeezing by your opponent at the end to knock him out of the tournament. One nice feature to have had in Tournament mode would have been to give the ability to select different opponents with different driving abilities. Final Note on installation: the game installed with a snap. It was merely a matter of inserting the CD-ROM into the drive and that was it. Maybe I have just been lucky lately, but it seems that the game companies out there are beginning to get a strong hold on what it takes with installing games in Windows 95!
All the sound effects are very realistic, everything from the squeal of the tires, to the head on collisions sound right. One of the more noticeable improvements in the area of sound is in the over-all depth of sound. The sound that your car makes while driving through a tunnel is depicted very realistically, really giving you that feeling of driving in a tunnel. Even the sounds of smacking into road signs are well done. There really are not too many parts to this category that you can pick on. One nice feature to have in future releases could be more ambient sounds, sounds that bring the world you are driving in one step closer to the real thing.
The music in Need For Speed II is excellent. From the time the main menu loads up you are given that exotic feeling through the music, as if you are about to venture into a world you have never known before. You have the option of playing music during the race but you take a risk of decreasing the overall performance. There are different musical scores for different tracks and all do a good job at giving that particular track its own feel along with the visual feel.
Intelligence & Difficulty:
What makes this game difficult is the speed at which the cars move at. We all have the urge to race with our foot to the floor, but this is not always the best way to drive, especially on roads that contain a lot of sharp turns. The people who master the ability to downshift into a turn while maintaining a decent speed, will usually win the race hands down. The computer opponents offer some challenge but at times they just don’t always seem to be all that intelligent. As with a lot of other simulations out there, you have a help factor that allows you to always be in the race no matter how bad you crash or how many times you crash. This changes as you increase the skill level in Need For Speed II, something other simulations have not gotten yet! The best way to increase the level of intelligence is to race against another opponent via multiplayer mode, at least that way you can heckle your friend while you cross the finish line.
When it comes to racing simulations there really are only a few players out there. Need For Speed II continues an excellent line of racing simulations. The graphics and speed of the game combined with the ability to race against other people give Need For Speed II a good edge over any competition. What really allows Need For Speed II to stand out are the different cars that you can race. Not only are there a number of cars that most people dream about driving, but there is the ability to tweak them to your liking by changing their setups. If you enjoyed Need For Speed SE and the original Need For Speed then this version is one you will not want to pass on.
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